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Essential Skills

Speaking, Listening, and Presenting

Objective: The goal of a good class discussion is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the material.  Talking about the material can help to solidify your understanding of the reading, help you to store information in your long-term memory, and gain new insights as your peers and teacher share their perspectives.  There are, however, many skills you can develop through speaking and listening that are vital in helping you become an analytical thinker.  

Orient Yourself:

1. What is the purpose of this discussion?  (e.g. to share opinions? to critique? to review?)

2. What is my role in class discussion?

3. How can I tell which parts of this discussion are important for me?

Think Analytically

1. What are the most important ideas from the discussion?

2. How are participants supporting their ideas with evidence?

3. How can I connect the content of this discussion to other concepts?

Habits of Success

A good discussion participant:

1.  Comes prepared to discuss the material (make certain you have done the reading and have taken some notes on points you believe are important to discuss).

2.  Listens attentively to other students’ responses and understandings

3.  Verbally engages other students’ ideas by asking questions that relate to other students’ observations

4.   Uses text or data to support claims, interpretations, and opinions of the topic

5.   Uses discussion as an opportunity to practice constructing arguments

6.   Appropriately monitors his or her own contributions to discussion

7.   Works to ensure each perspective is respected while not verbally attacking those whose ideas/opinions differ from yours


Objective: To effectively incorporate verbal and non-verbal skills, while possibly using a visual aid,  to share information with or to convey an idea to an audience.   Remember: How you say something is as important as what you say.

Orient Yourself:

1. Who is my audience?

2. What is the time requirement for my speech?

3. What visual aids do I need to use?       

Think Analytically

1. How relevant is my information  to my audience and to my speaking topic?

2. What information do I have to support  each of my ideas?

3. How does my visual aid reinforce my ideas? 

Habits for success

1. Speaking portion of presentation

To help you remember the  important verbal and non-verbal skills of a proper presentation, use the VOICES acronym:

V: volume--speaking loud enough, not allowing your voice to fade at the end of a sentence, avoid being monotone (use voice fluctuations)

O: organization--clear intro/body/conclusion, using transitional words between each section and between each point within the speech

I: information--ensuring your information is relevant  to your topic and appropriate  for your audience

C: composure/body language--standing upright, use of hand gestures and facial expressions, no repetitive movements

E: eye contact--looking at all parts of your audience, sustaining eye contact, don’t read  your speech to the audience

S: standard English--grammatically correct, no repetitive terms such as “like”, “um”, "okay," etc.

2. Visual aid for presentation

I. Characteristics of effective visual aids

A. Large lettering/pictures

B. Brief amount of information and text

C. Contrast/Colorful

D. Organized—follows the chronological order of your speech

E. Uses appropriate pictures to help support your ideas/points

F. Use graphs to represent data


II. Effective usage of visual aids

              A. Reinforces/supports verbal presentation    

                                        1. show the appropriate portion of your visual immediately before,

during or after your mentioning of the topic

                                               2. your visual aid should not show information which in not covered in

your speech

B. Don’t read (verbatim) from the visual aid nor talk as you face the visual aid

C. Seamlessly and naturally fits into your presentation

III. Guidelines for using video clips

A. The time for the video should not exceed more than 15% of your speech time

                            B. Load the video prior to the speech so there is no “wait time”

IV. Examples:

                      Power Point                YouTube video

                         Prezi—active slide show            Empressr

                  Glogster—electronic posters        Xtimeline

                         Animoto—images with sound        Google Earth


Videos to watch for presentation skills

  1.  (time--3:25)

  2. watch the difference in the woman’s verbal/non-verbal skills from her 1st to 2nd speech


      2)    (time--2:54)

  • this video gives great ideas for general presentation tips including visual aids


      3) (time--7:52)

  • this video discusses what to build your speech around in order to help your audience remember the point of your presentation


      4) (time--6:10)

  • provides you a variety of presentation tips